OIL: CHINA & VIETNAM & RUSSIA
China and Vietnam will hold high-level talks on Wednesday as relations remain strained over the deployment in early May of a Chinese drilling platform to waters claimed by Hanoi and Beijing.
The meeting between Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh in Hanoi will be the first official contact between the Asian neighbors after more than six weeks of angry confrontations.
While neither side is likely to back down in their dispute over the Paracel Islands and the surrounding waters of the South China Sea, the diplomatic opening is the first sign that Beijing and Hanoi are seeking to de-escalate a standoff that has battered their bilateral relations.
Meanwhile, Vietnam Oil & Gas Group, or Petrovietnam, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Russia's JSC Zarubezhneft for joint oil and gas exploration at two blocks offshore central Vietnam, Vietnamese state media reported on Tuesday.
The deal, signed on Monday at an international oil conference in Moscow, is for operations at blocks 125 and 126 in Phu Khanh Basin next to Vietnam's coastal city of Nha Trang, the official Vietnam News Agency reported.
The deal comes as Vietnam is protesting against the deployment in May of an oil rig by China National Offshore Oil Corp. in contested waters off Vietnam's coast, writes WSJ's Vu Trong-Khanh.
Petrovietnam Deputy Director, Nguyen Quoc Thap, said on Monday at a news conference in Hanoi that the company will continue to cooperate with its foreign partners in oil-and-gas exploration and production projects at offshore blocks in Vietnam's exclusive economic zone.
Mr. Thap said Petrovietnam has so far signed more than 100 contracts with foreign oil-and-gas companies for joint operations offshore Vietnam, and 61 of the contracts are still valid.
Petrovietnam has recently met with several international oil companies that have projects offshore of Vietnam and the companies have expressed their intention to continue their legal operations there. These companies include ExxonMobil, Gazprom, ONGC and Talisman.
Zarubezhneft earlier participated in several oil-and-gas exploration and production projects in Vietnam. It currently holds a 49% stake in Vietsovpetro, a joint venture with Petrovietnam and the operator of Vietnam's largest oil field Bach Ho.
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